A set with 9 or more members

Has anyone encountered a situation with more than 8 people (say 10), all active in an AL set… If yes, it would be interesting to know what happened, any lessons learned…

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    I coached a group that had 10 AL participants who met for 12 weeks, 90-minute sessions virtually each week. These sessions occured after a two day in-person kick-off of the team. We were able to establish good use of the ground rules for action learning during the kick-off sessions but I knew it would be challenging for the weekly virtual sessions. Lessons learned included: 1. It takes a lot of planning by the coach to provide the learning environment for action learning with a large group in 90 minute sessions. 2. During the sessions the coach really has to master multi-tasking of listening, note taking and intervention. 3. It is important the the AL team hears from the coach between sessions to remind them to complete learning actions, etc. Keeping an email loop was important. As we met for the first couple sessions, the group realized, as I did, that if everyone selected a competency for that session when all 10 participants were present, then had feedback from each other and the coach at the end of the session….there was little time to get any work done. I experimented with several ways to keep the group going with the learning component of this work and both had positive results:
    -For several sessions, the group selected a group competency to work on. This took less time at the beginning and made for robust discussion at the end of each of the sessions.
    -For several sessions, I had the group email their competency for the next session to me and I displayed them at the beginning of the session as well as sent them out the day before. At the beginning of the session, I paired them up and had them email each other after the session on what they had observed about the other and to cc me. I then replied to all on what I had observed. This was time consuming between sessions for me but it did provide more opportunity for individual feedback. Occasionally another participant would comment on what they had learned. If I do another virtual session like this with a large number of participants, I will consider building this into the process.
    -On days when we had 7 or fewer participants, I used the regular approach.


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    The challenge of the large group is that the learning interventions take considerably longer and that the balance of conversation leaves many silent for long stretches.

    That said, ideally stick with 5 or 6 in each Action Learning team.

    With the larger group – have to conversation around how the team will proceed based on the size of it.

    Happy Coaching


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    I was in a scenario very much like pdlinker’s. It helped me see the wisdom of limiting Action Learning group size. The size of the group made each individual in it seem less critical to the effective functioning of the group. A subset of the group was more engaged, while others were less involved. This was magnified by the fact that most of the sessions were via conference call. There is wisdom in groups being comprised of between 5 and 8 (max) members.


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